We need to stand up for what is right

Just like LFC fans who have stuck by the club and supported it unfailingly, we – the buy-to-let professionals, the investors, the landlords – have supported the housing market unequivocally.

We need to stand up for what is right

Ying Tan is the managing director of Buy to Let Club

Those of you who read my column regularly in Mortgage Introducer magazine will know I am lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club. As I’m sure many of you know, at present the club is embroiled in a dispute with its supporters over the price of tickets. This dispute - which saw over 10,000 fans leave the reds’ game against Sunderland in protest – stems from the fact the club is set to hike ticket prices from next season.

The price rises would see the most expensive ticket costing a massive £77 and, to show their disgust, fans staged a walkout in the 77th minute of the Sunderland game at the weekend.

The rising cost of tickets has been an issue of debate in the football world for many years and the latest increase from chief executive Ian Ayre and his board is clearly the last straw for LFC fans.

Call me bias but to me Liverpool FC has some of the best fans in the world.

Dedicated, diehard fans who have followed the club through the highs and the lows (and there have been many lows believe me!) and to the fans this ticket price hike seems like a slap in the face. What a way to reward the supporters that have stuck by you through thick and thin?

The protest, says the chair of the Spirit of Shankly Supporters’ Union, is intended to “make Liverpool Football Club, the owners, and the executives think to themselves: ‘Is this the right approach?’”

To the fans, the club’s owners and directors are making decisions that will ultimately prove detrimental and joining together in one voice of protest is their attempt to make them see that.

I can’t help but think those of us operating in the buy-to-let industry at present are in a similar position.

The government is making decisions about our industry that will ultimately hurt it.

We brokers, lenders and landlords who operate on the front line every day can see the mistakes that are being made. We can see the damage that is being done but the decision makers calling the shots, it seems, can’t.

These decisions – the tax relief cuts and the stamp duty hikes – may mean more money is made out of us but is it really worth it if it means you lose the faith and respect of the sector?

Just like LFC fans who have stuck by the club and supported it unfailingly, we – the buy-to-let professionals, the investors, the landlords – have supported the housing market unequivocally. We have provided a vital PRS market which millions of people rely on. Indeed, with social housing in such short supply we have filled a vital gap.

We have boosted the economy immeasurably.

Yet, the government is currently waging something of a war against the sector by making ill thought out decisions which will have a negative impact on not just landlords but, in turn, tenants.

Many people do not want to buy. Thousands upon thousands of people actually prefer to rent. They like the flexibility it offers. They like the benefits it affords them.

For these people – and, indeed, those who do want to buy but are not yet in a position to, a thriving, safe and quality-driven rental market is essential.

Landlords are business people. They are not going to run their ‘businesses’ at a loss. If they can’t make money on their properties then there is little point.

If costs go up then something has to give and this will probably mean rents will rise.

The government may be trying to encourage more home ownership by targeting landlords but if rents are forced to rise how will tenants manage to save for a deposit?

Perhaps it’s time we took a leaf out of LFC fans’ book. Perhaps we need to come together with one voice to show our distaste for the current situation.

We are all business people and we understand that the government has a strategy it is trying to implement but, as experts, we know the current methods and plan of action will not work. We’re not asking for an easy ride. But the government could work closely with us, as an industry, to devise much more workable plans - plans that won’t ultimately lead to tenants losing out.

I do believe Liverpool Football Club will eventually have to concede defeat, at least to some extent, and look again at their proposed price hikes.

They need to keep the support of the fans and they can’t alienate them by insisting on these extortionate prices. And likewise the government needs the support of landlords. It needs a PRS and it needs the buy-to-let market to continue to be a success, both for the economy and for prospective tenants.

We just have to stand up for what we know is right.